Volunteers lineup to count area's homeless

By By John Guidroz / American Press

About 25 volunteers will find out how many homeless people are in the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana next week, an

official said Wednesday.

The Point-In-Time Homeless Count Survey

will take place Tuesday in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and

Jeff Davis parishes.

Volunteers will participate in a training session 8:30 a.m.-noon

Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 812 Kirkman St.

Fifty to 100 volunteers are needed.

Umeih Thomas, interim coordinator for

the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Continuum of Care, said volunteers

will count homeless

people living in shelters, hospitals or institutions and those

living on the streets.

She said the effort has become more challenging because some homeless people tend to blend in with those who are not.

“Homeless people don’t dress like they used to,” Thomas said. “They don’t necessarily have dirty clothes or carry around bags.”

Angela Jouett is the director of the

Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corps, the agency organizing the count. She

said homeless people

are given a form to fill out that is similar to a census report.

It asks where the person slept the night before, along with

other questions about his or her history.

Jouett said people do not have to

answer every question on the form and do not have to give their names.

She said organizers

have 200 bags with supplies like toothpaste and other toiletries

for people who fill out the surveys. They will also provide

medical care, including blood pressure tests.

Thomas said the Continuum of Care will

submit information from the count to agencies like the U.S. Department

of Housing and

Urban Development. The number of homeless people counted could

affect how much federal grant money Southwest Louisiana receives.

Jouett said volunteers found 152 homeless people in 2011 and 2012. She said finding the same number two years in a row is

unusual because some homeless people don’t stay in one place for long.

To volunteer, call 656-0839 by Thursday. For more information, call Jouett at 656-0839 or Thomas at 721-5045.